For you're scenario, don't rule out what is perceived as a throw away from the big box. Or go to a dealer, you can get the same thing. I mowed with a toro zero turn for 7 years, standard model with a stamped deck. Friend of mine bought it 2 years ago from me and still going strong. Don't let anyone tell you if they don't have a fab deck and commercial grade that they are just going to fall apart on you in a hurry. Not true. Cleaned, cared for and properly stored they will last a very long time. My advice? Get the toro zero turn with 42" deck. I have a friend who mows a half an acre as well and that has been perfect for him. The kawasaki engines are fantastic. Get it from a dealer if you don't want to deal with big box store. Very reasonably priced as well. Can say enough though to go with the zero turn as opposed to riding tractor, you won't regret it.